DisOrient 2018 A Taste of Home
A Taste of Home (2017) Feature Documentary - 53 min. - English USA
Co-Directed and Co-Produced by Val Tan and Siang Hui Tay
After traveling around the world for 5 years, 30 year-old Filmmaker Val Tan came to America, and settled in the city of Seattle. Having been away from home for 5 years, Val was homesick. Born in Singapore and raised in her Grandmothers kitchen, Val missed her Grandmothers home-cooked dishes. She ventured into Seattle Chinatown, hoping to find a dish that would bring back the familiar taste of her Grandmothers cooking, her taste of home. But she couldnt find any.
How did the Egg Foo Young turn from an egg prawn scallion pancake into a deep-fried dish, served with gravy on top? Our ancestors came from the same parts of China. Why would the food turn out so different?
She ordered dishes that had the same familiar names to her Grandmothers cooking. But received dishes that looked and tasted completely different from what she was brought up with. She had to find out why.
Her search for a taste of home brought her into the kitchens of 5 of the oldest food establishments in Seattle Chinatown, where the first Chinese American food recipes were invented, cooked, and served. She found out why early Chinese immigrants altered their hometown recipes and became known for Chop Suey, Crispy Chow Mein Noodles and Deep Fried Egg Foo Young classic Chinese American cuisine, found only in America.
She sat with 4th generation Chinese American restaurant owners who had framed up their engineering degrees and stood by their 100 year-old family food businesses, to talk about the evolution of their familys American Dreams.
She met with locals who grew up in the neighborhood. They brought her down memory lanes, sharing with her stories that no one else knew, because no one else asked.
She walked into the ruins of a famous bakery destroyed by a sudden fire, and witnessed the healing and resilience of an immigrant family who had lost their family legacy overnight.
She consulted with a local Food Anthropologist, who re-created a popular dish eaten by every Chinese laborer in the early 1900s Preserved Pomelo Peels steamed with Pork. This dish disappeared quietly from all the restaurant menus about 20 years ago.
At last, she found a family who is still making one of her favorite childhood dishes Joong (Glutinous Rice Dumplings) in a traditional way, only to realize that their children have no interest in continuing the family legacy.
On her quest to find her taste of home, Val was confronted with a bigger question: Are Chinatowns dying?
This question not only led her to finding her taste of home; along the way, Val found the one thing all immigrants were looking for: a place where they are included and can belong.
Post-Screening reflections about the community function and historical significance of Chinese-American restaurants with DisOrient Founder Jason Mak
UO Erb Memorial Union Redwood Theater (View)
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